Aldgate was a gateway through London Wall from the City of London to Whitechapel and the East End.
A street within the EC3N postcode
User unknown/public domain
It is thought that a gate at Aldgate was already spanning the road to Colchester in the Roman period, when the City wall itself was constructed. The gateway stood at the corner of the modern Duke's Place and was always an obstacle to traffic. It was rebuilt between 1108–47, again in 1215, and reconstructed completely between 1607-09. The gate was finally removed in 1761; it was temporarily re-erected at Bethnal Green.
While he was a customs official, from 1374 until 1386, Geoffrey Chaucer occupied apartments above the gate. The Augustinians priory of Holy Trinity Aldgate was founded by Matilda, the wife of King Henry I, in 1108, on ground just inside the gate.
Within Aldgate ward, Jews settled from 1181, until their expulsion in 1290 by King Edward I. The area became known as Old Jewry. Jews were welcomed back by Oliver Cromwell, and once again they settled in the area, founding London's oldest synagogue at Bevis Marks in 1698.
At Aldgate's junction with Leadenhall Street and Fenchurch Street is the site of the old Aldgate Pump. From 1700 it was from this point that distances were measured into the counties of Essex and Middlesex. The original pump was taken down in 1876, and a 'faux' pump and drinking fountain was erected several yards to the west of the original; it was supplied by water from the New River. In ancient deeds, Alegate Well is mentioned, adjoining the City wall, and this may have been the source (of water) for the original pump. A section of the remains of Holy Trinity Priory can be seen through a window in a nearby office block, on the north side.
The area around the large traffic roundabout to the east of where the gate stood is also often referred to as Aldgate (although strictly, this is Aldgate High Street, and extends a short distance into Whitechapel; it is also known occasionally by the epithet 'Gardiners' Corner', in honour of a long-disappeared department store).
Aldgate underground station was opened on 18 November 1876 with the southbound extension to Tower Hill opening on 25 September 1882, completing the (Inner) Circle. Services from Aldgate originally ran far further west than they do now, reaching as far as Richmond, and trains also used to run from Aldgate to Hammersmith (the Hammersmith & City line now bypasses the station). It became the terminus of the Metropolitan line only in 1941. Before that, Metropolitan trains had continued on to the southern termini of the East London Line.
Platforms 1 and 4 at Aldgate are the only two platforms on the network to be served exclusively by the Circle line.